West African Regional Bloc Considers Military Intervention in Niger
The main regional bloc of West Africa has indicated its agreement to a possible military intervention to restore democracy in Niger if diplomatic efforts prove unsuccessful. The bloc has emphasized that it will not engage in endless negotiations with the rebel junta. There has been no immediate response from the junta.
This statement emerged at the end of a two-day meeting of West African military chiefs in Accra, the capital of Ghana, where they discussed strategies and funding for possible military action in Niger. The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) stated that such action would be a last resort.
During the closing ceremony, ECOWAS Commissioner for Political Affairs, Peace, and Security, Abdoul-Fatau Musah, declared, “We are ready to act at any moment, even D-Day has been agreed upon, which we will not disclose.” He mentioned that a peaceful solution remains the preferred option, hence the door has not been closed, but “we will not be part of endless discussions.”
Military officials had removed Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari from office on July 26, and he was subsequently asked to step down by the United Nations, ECOWAS, and others.
According to the bloc, most of its 15 member countries, excluding those under military rule [such as Mali, Burkina Faso, and Guinea – and Cape Verde], are prepared to contribute to joint forces, with those under military rule being the exception.
ECOWAS has taken a firm stance on the Niger coup, the seventh coup in the region in the past three years. The bloc’s credibility is at stake, as it had previously stated it would not tolerate such coups in the future.
Any military intervention in the impoverished Sahel region of West Africa could escalate turmoil in an area already grappling with a decade-long Islamic insurgency and deepening food crises.